You Have No Idea What Your Co-workers Really Think of You

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Photo: NBC

Do your colleagues see you as too pushy, or a total pushover? According to a new paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, you probably haven’t got a clue. 

In a series of four studies, Columbia Business School researchers set up mock negotiations between MBA students at the university; afterward, each student was asked about his or her own assertiveness, and his or her partner’s. The participants were also asked to guess how their partners had rated them, something they were not great at. Via the press release:

57 percent of people actually seen by their counterpart as under–assertive thought they had come across as appropriately assertive or even over–assertive.

56 percent of people actually seen by their counterpart as over–assertive thought they had come across as appropriately assertive or even under–assertive.

Together, these results suggest that people seen as getting assertiveness wrong in the eyes of others had about a coin–flip’s chance of recognizing how they were seen.

It’s easy to complain about the various jerks and doormats who populate your neighboring cubicles. It’s less easy to imagine that the jerk or doormat is you.